Browns Round Out Defensive Roster With ‘Celebrity’ Linebacker

Dakota Allen, Cleveland Browns

Getty Dakota Allen #53 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on during training camp at TIAA Bank Field on July 28, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns on Wednesday added something of a celebrity to their 90-man offseason roster.

Linebacker Dakota Allen, who gained exposure after appearing on the Netflix streaming series “Last Chance U,” will attempt to make the Browns’ regular season roster over the coming months. Should he earn a spot on the team, it will be the fourth NFL franchise with which he has been associated since the Los Angeles Rams drafted him in 2019.

The Rams selected Allen in the seventh round out of the University of Texas Tech. The linebacker never played a snap in L.A., but was able to catch on with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Las Vegas Raiders (then the Oakland Raiders) for a total of five games during his first professional season.

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Allen Created NFL Niche as Special Teams Contributor

Dakota Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars

GettyDakota Allen of the Jacksonville Jaguars warms up prior to a game against the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field on October 10, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The Jags kept Allen on the roster for the next two years. He appeared in a total of 27 games across 2020 and 2021, earning starts in three of those contests.

Allen’s snap distribution over those two campaigns show that he has been primarily employed as a special teams player. Allen has been on the field for 73 percent of the Jaguars’ special teams snaps each season (a total of 522 snaps overall) and 11 percent and 5 percent of Jacksonville’s defensive snaps, respectively (101 snaps in 2020 and 43 snaps in 2021).

All told, Allen has amassed 28 tackles, including three tackles for loss, one quarterback hit and one forced fumble throughout his professional career.

Browns Focus on Solidifying Linebacker Group This Offseason

GettyDE Myles Garrett (left) and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (right) of the Cleveland Browns celebrate after stopping QB Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears (not pictured) during the first half of a game at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Should Allen make the Browns’ 53-man roster, it will likely be primarily as a special teams player. However, he could also see some time at linebacker — a position that could prove crucial to Cleveland’s success in 2022.

The Browns remain weak across the interior of the defensive line after the team decided to move on from both starting defensive tackles last season, Malik Jackson and Malik McDowell.

The front office has engaged in discussions about adding five-time Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh to solidify the middle of its defense, though those talks have not yet produced an offer to the former member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who became a Super Bowl champion with that franchise in 2020.

Cleveland has more than $42 million in salary cap space left to spend this offseason, per Over The Cap. However, should the organization decide to spend it elsewhere, the linebacking corps will be relied upon heavily to pick up the slack against the run.

The future of the linebacker position in Cleveland belongs to Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who will enter his second NFL season in 2022. The Browns also brought back LB Anthony Walker on a one-year deal, who will join Owuse-Koramoah and Sione Takitaki as the team’s three starters, per ESPN.

Cleveland traded with the New England Patriots for linebacker Chase Winovich in an effort to round out a position that will likely still need some beefing up before the regular season kicks off in September.

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